Permits Made Simple

Philadelphia Zoning is Here For You


Here at Philadelphia Zoning, we specialize in obtaining permits in a timely fashion. A task which we have often alluded to in our previous posts, as one which requires a certain level of expertise.  Expertise, not everyone who needs a permit in the city of Philadelphia has.


Luckily for you, our goal here at Philadelphia Zoning is not only to share our expertise with clients but to make it accessible to everyone!


So although you might not be an expert yet, hang in there, you will be.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting (A Permit)


The most essential things we want you to know by looking at the infographic above are what kind of permit process your project requires, how long it will take, and what are the steps involved.


You can’t possibly be expected not to skip a step if you aren’t sure what all the step are, to begin with.



As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, a by-right permit is exactly what it sounds like, permission for something that is allowed, by-right. This means less time, less money, and less stress (most of the time).


The first step in this process is to review the requirements for your particular type of permit. To compile all the necessary information. Obtain pre-requisites if any apply. And submit your application for review. Unless it is something that can be processed over the counter. Either way, you’re bound for Licenses and Inspections at the famed and fabled 1401 JFK Blvd.


After you have submitted your application, the plans examiner may need to see more information in order to evaluate the project. In this case, an additional information packet must be compiled according to their request and submitted back at 1401 JFK for a second review.


This might happen more than once if all the plans examiner’s requests were not addressed, so it is important to be thorough. As the infographic above shows, the by-right application can take anywhere from 4 weeks (20 business days) without additional information being submitted, to 16 weeks.




Now the juicy stuff. The infographic breaks down a week-by-week description of what goes into getting a variance permit, or a special exception permit.



Weeks 1 and 2 are dedicated to the application review. Then in weeks 3-4 hopefully we get a refusal (unless there are requests for additional information, in that case, the timeline can stretch to 16 weeks for this stage).



As counterintuitive as hoping for a refusal is, with a refusal you can “pass go” and head to the next step. But sorry, unlike monopoly, there’s no collecting $200. It actually costs $300 to file an appeal, or $125 if your project is for a single family home.



During weeks 5-10 your appeal will be processed by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Once the appeal is reviewed, they will issue you a date for your hearing.


Community Meeting:

In weeks 10-14 you will need to set up a community meeting with your Registered Community Organization (RCO). This gives the community a chance to weigh in on your project and the possible impact it could have on them.



Once you have presented to the RCO, you and your lawyer will be able to present for the Zoning Board in a hearing. This is usually between 14-18 week after the start of the process.



Immediately following your hearing, the ZBA will issue a Notice of Decision (NOD). But hold on, you’re not done yet.



If the Zoning Board approves your proposal at the hearing, you must collect the official Notice of Decision the following week and deliver it to 1401 JFK to be processed. Once you drop off your notice of decision it typically takes 2-4 weeks for Licenses and Inspections (L&I) to issue your Billing Statement. This billing statement is your ticket to collect your permit.


Philly Zoning Team

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